Kalkaska Village President Jeff Sieting says he makes “a good lightning rod.”(Photo: Jan-Michael Stump, Traverse City Record-Eagle)
Kalkaska — This northern Michigan town burned to the ground not once but twice in the early 1900s.
Now it’s threatening to happen a third time, residents say.
An elected leader’s refusal to disavow incendiary remarks about Muslims, blacks and transgender people continues to inflame people in and outside the village.
It has fueled dueling demonstrations and contentious meetings. Some stores have been boycotted for supporting the leader, while others are snubbed for opposing him. A Kalkaska Village Council meeting last week drew militias bearing enough arms to equip a small army.
The longer the conflagration lasts, the more damage it does to the already struggling town, merchants said. It also threatens to leave a stigma that will last long after the furor has died down.
With many residents and council members continuing to support Village President Jeff Sieting, a resident worried Kalkaska would be compared to the Ku Klux Klan.
“It’s bad enough we have three K’s